Posts by Bill Levisay:
Its hard to imagine that ten years ago the week, my good friend and old boss passed away after his fight with the disease, ALS. It was a unique and complicated/challenging time, and I view it as a real treasure of my life that I was able to spend a lot of time with Bruce in the months and weeks before his passing. The stories, the little interactions, the funny moments of those times together all add up to an unusual collage of remembrance and lessons… many of which I have passed along in previous essays and a few that I will share as easy links in the following paragraphs.
Since Bruce’s passing, I have shared his story not just through this blog but with groups of folks in retreats and presentations that I have lead at Bolthouse Farms or with a number of my consulting clients. Hundreds of folks who never knew Bruce up in Appleton Wisconsin have come to know his humor, his insights and his wisdom primarily through the stories of those days I had with him in the spring and early summer of 2009.
While many of his stories hit home, the video above that he made for the folks at Kimberly-Clark has been a keepsake of mine for the past ten years. I keep it on my laptop desktop and rewatch it regularly, especially when I feel that I need a little nudge from my friend Bruce! Another story that has really triggered a lot of attention is his view of “Authenticity, the Foundation of Leadership.” This specific story, and the related chart reviewed in the essay has really connected to a wide range of folks across roles and work environments. The idea that “authentic leaders” have the greatest organizational impact and Bruce’s view that the basis of authenticity is the alignment of a leaders “words and actions!” Staying on the “authenticity rail” is a significant concept in this area and I have watched it really connect to executives in their own leadership journeys over the past ten years.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
“Authenticity”, the Foundation of Leadership
I sincerely miss Bruce and would love to have his available today as I dive into my new role as President of Bolthouse Farms Brands. I could really use his good humored “push/nudge,” his encouragement for me to go beyond my limited current thinking and find key insights for future performance. As I reflects on the picture above of his grave in a lovely cemetery near the river in Appleton, I am once again reminded of his lessons for me today!! Take a close look and you will see one of Bruce’s constant quotes “Always pursue the truth…” on the bottom of the cemetery marker. I can literally hear those words in my ears today, from 30+ years ago when I was a marketing assistant at Kimberly-Clark, working for Bruce, when I brought him some sort of analysis that was not quite finished and he would send me back to my cube with those words ringing in my ears. While certainly appropriate then, with is very applicable for me today! The business I have just jumped back into is in decline, and with lots of challenges across the board and a cursory review of the facts…. “the truth” will not cut it! I need to listen to Bruce’s advice today and push my company to dig deeper, search harder and “always pursue the truth” as we clarify the road ahead.
A ten year memory and salute to my friend and mentor…. Bruce Paynter!!
June 17, 2019 is going to go down in my personal history as a notable day on a wide number of fronts, and while the closing of the transaction to buy back Bolthouse Farms from Campbell’s
(more on that later) it isn’t the only significant event (or figure) that needs to be be noted today!
200: This essay makes the 200th that I have posted over the life of this blog. The topics have covered a wide range of topics across the 200 essays. On the personal front there are stories of my grandmothers, my Aunt Lorraine and mother, my dad, my wife Jennie and our two kids Bryson and Marie. There are over 100 essays on the topics of leadership, strategic planning, branding, and performance management; quite literally the list goes on! It has been an amazing journey for me personally, which started in 2009 with some old friends from Coke wanting me to publish a story or two about my grandmother (the original “Turkey Bag” story became the first essay back in early 2009) and while VERY reluctant at first, I now think about writing essays all the time and miss my “writing time” if its been too long between essays! I NEVER thought of myself as a writer but I always thought of myself as a storyteller and sometimes those stories can only be shared in written form. As of today, there have been almost 60k page views from over 35 countries ( just last month I had almost 100 page views from separate readers in France of a specific essay…. impossible to know how or why that happened…. humbled by the interest and attention!)
11: Eleven years ago I left Coke and began a journey that has brought me to this amazing moment today. At that time in the spring of 2008, with the financial crisis just beginning to emerge, it was a very scary time for me professionally and personally. I wasn’t sure of the path ahead, I didn’t have a clear career plan charted post-Coke and the future looked uncertain and at times beyond intimidating. Now eleven years later, that departure opened my world in so many ways, and allowed me to grow professionally and personally! I am so thankful for my family and friends that have supported me so deeply through that journey, none more steadfast than my wife Jennie. Through her support and the support of others I found my way to Bolthouse Farms back in 2009 (and started writing this blog that same year), started a thriving consulting practice in 2015, and am now improbably heading back to Bolthouse Farms as President starting today!
2: Its rare in life to be able to think about your legacy and take actions to affect it in your professional and personal lives! In 2005 I wrote a little book on leadership while at Coke, titled Find Your Legacy, that began a journey for me on thinking about and trying to take action on this concept of “Legacy” in my professional life and roles. Over three thousand copies of the “little book” were distributed inside and outside of Coke and there have been thousand of page views and meeting/retreat discussions on the same topic over the past 10+ years. The rare and special opportunity I feel today is the chance to work on that Legacy at Bolthouse Farms for a 2nd time! Joining forces with my friend and work partner for almost thirty years Jeff Dunn, we are diving back into Bolthouse Farms not only to fix/correct a number of business dynamics that have occurred during the past seven years under the ownership of The Campbell Soup Company, but to rebuild a strong, industry leading, and enduring commercial and operating platform in the fresh/produce industry! In other terms rebuilding a strong legacy foundation for the next chapter in the the 104+ year history of Bolthouse Farms!
I will close with a simple and humble thank you! Thanks to all the family, friends and work partners who have been part of this amazing journey and a big presumptive thank you to my family, friends and the folks at Bolthouse Farms for being there for me and with me on the journey opening up in the months and years ahead!!